A spoon is the perfect shovel for a fish’s grave,
but there’s nothing perfect above the scrape it makes
against drought dried dirt, the hole that’s never deep enough
to ensure that a cat won’t dig it up, never marked
with a noble enough headstone, just some twigs
or some aquarium gravel that caught in the net
when you scooped the thing out of the tank,
limp and upside down on the bottom, not floating
like it’s supposed to, not breathing either.
The other fish will eat it if you leave it there.
They’re worse than the cats. They’ll eat their own
babies, even, and they have, and still you love
their bright tailed to and fro, the way they swim
to your side of the tank when you sit near them,
the way they flit up and down at the sight
of the food can, or any can, really–what do they know?
You love them enough not to flush them
down the toilet when they die or toss them in the trash,
but to carry them out back in a paper towel
and kneel here in your pajamas, dig this grave
by flashlight when you could be sleeping,
whisper a last goodbye to a glass eye staring at the moon.